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The Upfronts: ABC

by Mike Moody, posted May 19th 2009 8:33AM
ABC logoYesterday, we gave you a preview of ABC's upcoming fall comedies and dramas. Today, we got the official lowdown on the network's 2009-2010 schedule during its upfront presentation.

As expected, the network picked up a number of new shows and stuck with some of its most solid performers.

Returning: Lost (Update: Lost will be back, but exactly where and on what night has not been determined.), Castle, Scrubs, Better Off Ted, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Ugly Betty, Dancing With the Stars, 20/20, Supernanny, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Desperate Housewives, Brothers & Sisters, The Bachelor. Wife Swap, True Beauty, America's Funniest Home Videos

Gone: Samantha Who?, Cupid, The Unusuals, In the Motherhood, According to Jim

New: Cougar Town, Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, Flash Forward, Eastwick, Shark Tank, The Forgotten

New for Mid-Season: V, Happy Town, The Deep End

Watch this space for more details on the new shows and comments from ABC execs...

More on the schedule, comments and some details on the new shows after the jump.

New Comedies:

ABC HankABC's new schedule includes an all-new Wednesday night comedy block with Hank starring Kelsey Grammer, The Middle starring Patricia Heaton, the "mockumentary" Modern Family, and Cougar Town starring Courtney Cox and produced by Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence.

ABC's Steve McPherson said the new Wednesday lineup was the network's "biggest risk," but ABC wants to be "back in the family comedy business." He seemed confident that established stars like Grammer and Cox would help win the night.

Hank stars Grammer as a former CEO and absentee father who loses his job and returns home to deal with "the reality" of his family. McPherson said The Middle was developed two years ago, but the network wanted to revamp it with a more "Malcolm in the Middle feel." The show stars Patricia Heaton as a middle class mom living in the midwest and, McPherson said, will hopefully reflect "the reality that many Americans live." The show also stars Scrubs cast member Neil Flynn.

Cougar Town stars Cox stars as a recently divorced single mother. The show will "be looking at women growing older dealing with love and romance," according to the network. The show also stars Christa Miller and Busy Philipps.

The network is prepping a big push for Modern Family, which McPherson called part of the "next generation" of family comedies. McPherson on Modern Family: "It's incredibly insightful, inventive, funny." Modern Family is produced by Christopher Lloyd and Steve Levitan.

New Dramas:
ABC Flash ForwardThe big push here is Flash Forward, which McPherson called "an intimate epic" and "the most buzzworthy show we have right now." The show is based on a Robert J. Sawyer novel where everyone is knocked unconscious for a few minutes and sees a vision of the future. It stars Joseph Fiennes, Courtney B. Vance, and Star Trek's John Cho. Flash Forward will kick off Thursday nights.

The Forgotten, a crime procedural produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, will debut Tuesdays in the 10 p.m. slot. McPherson said the network had a "real opportunity" to position the procedural at 10 p.m. against Leno on NBC.

Eastwick, based on the Jack Nicholson movie The Witches of Eastwick, will cap off the Wednesday night comedy block. McPherson said Eastwick is a series that could only air on ABC, praising the show's quirky comedic spirit as well as its dramatic elements and character relationships. The show got picked up for a 13-episode run.

Coming mid-season are the murder mystery Happy Town, V, a remake of the 1980s sci-fi series/miniseries about an alien invasion, and The Deep End starring Billy Zane, which McPherson called "Grey's Anatomy in the law world."

New Reality:
Survivor producer Mark Burnett is coming to ABC with Shark Tank, in which wannabe entrepreneurs pitch ideas to potential investors. The show will premiere this summer after the special 10th anniversary return of Who Wants to be a Millionaire to primetime. Shark Tank will then move to Tuesdays at 8 p.m.

About returning shows:
Scrubs ABCMcPherson said the network was pleased with the performance of both Scrubs and Better Off Ted. He confirmed that Zach Braff would return to Scrubs for six episodes next season, but "not exactly the first six." Braff will show up in six of the first thirteen eps of the season. Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence has two options on the show's creative direction, one being the "new generation" format Lawrence has talked about before, McPherson said. There's still no word on exactly what Scrubs will look like when it returns.

The network is looking for a "sophmore bump" for Castle, McPherson said, and Ugly Betty will continue to film in New York. The network showed a lot of faith in Thursday dramas Private Practice, Grey's Anatomy and Lost, with McPherson saying that there was "no better lineup" than ABC Thursdays.

About Samantha Who? not returning
"I feel really responsible for that show," McPherson told reporters. "Christina Applegate is a giant TV star. It was really frustrating. It launched well but ran out of steam."

What about The New Adventures of Old Christine?
McPherson said that if CBS doesn't pick up the show for another season, ABC is "going to be really excited to have it."

The Schedule:
(Shows picked up but not listed on the schedule will debut later in the 2009-2010 season)
8 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
10 p.m. Castle

8 p.m. Shark Tank
9 p.m. Dancing With the Stars (results)
10 p.m. The Forgotten

8 p.m. Hank
8:30 p.m. The Middle
9 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Cougar Town
10 p.m Eastwick

8 p.m. Flash Forward
9 p.m. Grey's Anatomy
10 p.m. Private Practice

8 p.m. Supernanny
9 p.m. Ugly Betty
10 p.m. 20/20

8 p.m. Saturday Night College Football

7 p.m. America's Funniest Home Videos
8 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10 p.m. Brothers & Sisters

The Bachelor will air Monday nights from 8-10 p.m. following the run of Dancing with the Stars. Scrubs and Better Off Ted will air at 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., respectively, following the run of Dancing with the Stars The Results Show.

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Thumbs down to ABC for renewing "Scrubs." Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the show. But after a wonderful eighth season and a picture-perfect series finale, I am extremely disappointed to see that they're bringing it back in a new format. Hopefully it won't ruin the show's legacy. As for "Better Off Ted," I must admit that I gave up on it after a few episodes...I wasn't really able to get hooked. But perhaps I should give it another try.

"Hank" looks absolutely awful and unfunny. I really like Kelsey Grammar, but the material here is sorely lacking. This and the defunct "Back to You" are/were certainly not worthy of the former Frasier's comedic talents. I'll be skipping this one.

The preview for "The Middle," on the other hand, looks truly hilarious. I'm thrilled to see Neil Flynn back on TV after the end (?) of "Scrubs," and he looks equally funny in this role. This show has great potential; count me in as a regular viewer.

As for the dubiously named "Cougar Town," I was far from hooked by the clips on the website. Maybe I'm not in the target demographic, being male and all, but to me the jokes seemed to fall flat. I'll probably watch the pilot, since it's Bill Lawrence's show. I'll also probably catch "Modern Family" and maybe even "Eastwick" for a couple episodes. "Flash Forward"...not sure what to say. I'd have to see it.

I'm excited for the final season of "Lost" -- the season finale was mind-blowingly cool! Not to mention the cancellation of "According to Jim." History shall remember this day.

May 21 2009 at 9:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

True Beauty is back? Wasn't the point of the show that none of the participants knew what it was really about?

May 20 2009 at 8:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about Surviving Suburbia? Will that be back? I'm a sitcommie, so the more sitcoms on TV, the better.

May 20 2009 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

booo! I love The Unusuals.

May 19 2009 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Flash Forward sounds really promising...

May 19 2009 at 2:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So, glad to hear Better Off Ted is back, but wondering if they aren't just going to use the remainder of this season's episodes for it, or give it a bigger season. Will they air those remaining episodes, or just keep it to DVD and air new ones. Confused, but still happy.

May 19 2009 at 1:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
J. Shell

I'm also confused about Scrubs coming back... Very confused.

May 19 2009 at 1:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Seeing as how The Unusuals took the spot of Life On Mars, against Law & Order and CSI: NY, it's no surprise it also failed. It was a dumb idea to put another cop show on in that time slot. Of course, now with Leno's show they could do it. Sam Tyler could have returned, and done a lot better.

May 19 2009 at 11:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Is Wife Swap canceled, or is it just on hold until Ugly Betty tanks on Friday?

May 19 2009 at 11:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Whoa. Scrubs in & Samantha Who? is out? Huh? Didn't Scrubs have a series final last week?

May 19 2009 at 11:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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